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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Equalizer
Season Four


Starring: Edward Woodward
Fabulous Films / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £39.99
Certificate: 12
Available 29 October 2012

Robert McCall is a man of conscious. Having done some questionable things, in the past; he attempts to make amends by helping out as a private detective. If danger threatens, then your eye may catch a certain advert “Gotta problem? Odds against you? Call the Equalizer”...

The Equalizer: Season Four (1988 - 1100 min) is a television thriller show, created by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim. In its four seasons run it became a multi-award winning format, mostly thanks to its main actor, Edward Woodward. Season four is presented on a six disc DVD set, which includes all of that season's stories, twenty-two in all, as well as a smattering of extras. The shows are presented in their original aspect ratio. The print does not look restored, but it is none the less clear, if a little soft from its conversion to PAL. Audio is a clear DD 2.0.

There is a deep vein of justice which runs through most audiences, we like to see the bad guy get his just deserts, probably because that’s not the way it happens in real life. The powerful appear, for the most part, to get away with pretty much anything and enjoy themselves doing it. This also explains why shows like Dynasty and Dallas were so popular; if you’re going to be rich and powerful we, the audience, would like the reassurance that your lives are actually miserable as sin.

Detective shows which relied on the charisma of its central character were popular in the seventies with Columbo, The Rockford Files and Magnum PI, The Equalizer found itself at the end of this trend, before shows expanded to include anything from two main characters, like Cagney and Lacey, to full ensemble pieces, like Hill Street Blues. It is a testament to Edward Woodward’s screen presence that the show, which at its best remained somewhat formulaic, survived for a full four seasons. He was nominated for the Emmy for each year of the show's run and won the Golden Globe in 1987 for his work as a lead actor.

Although the show varied its format little over the four year it existed, it was not above dealing with, or depicting, victims of rape or equally distressing situations. Its contemporaries always kept the crime light and even injected a level of humour so as not to disturb their audience. Whilst this trend continued in some shows, The Equalizer showed that there was an appetite for smarter, grittier shows. The show won many awards and even in its ultimate season was able to call upon the talents of Jenny Agutter and Laurence Fishburne as guest players. Oddly enough the fourth season's stories were some of the strongest of the whole run.

Disc one holds episodes one to four, The Last Campaign, Sea of Fire, Riding the Elephant and Eighteen with a Bullet. Disc two has five to eight, The Day of the Covenant, Splinters, Making of a Martyr and The Sins of our Fathers. Disc three continues with episodes nine to twelve, The Visitation, Past Imperfect, Trail by Ordeal and Silent Fury.

Disc four has episodes thirteen to sixteen, Lullaby of Darkness, 17 Zebra, Starfire and Time Present, Time Past. The penultimate disc five continues with episodes seventeen to twenty, Prisoners of Conscious, The Caper, Heart of Justice and Race Traitors. The final disc has the remaining shows, episodes twenty to twenty-two as well as the extras. Concept is four pages of text giving the background of Robert McCall and his method of working. There is more text in four Original Cast Biographies and the meatiest extra is The Story of the Equalizer (43 min, 35 sec) a new documentary about the show.

Obviously, Equalizer fans will be pleased to complete their collection, but there is much here for the casual viewer, especially if you can get over some of the eighties hair and clothes.


Charles Packer

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